White House Announces Changes to Immigration Proceedings
The White House announced Wednesday a new regulation for handling migrants at the southern border. The new regulation would terminate the Flores settlement, which has been widely accepted as the precedent for handling children at the border and prevents children from being held for more than twenty days.
The new regulation will establish standards for family housing which will allow immigrant children to be kept with their parents while immigration proceedings are underway, according to a White House release. It must be approved by a federal judge before taking effect.
The White House explains, “The Flores loophole essentially gives a free pass into the interior of the United States to many aliens who arrive at the border with a minor. Smugglers have used this loophole as a selling point for aliens who want to cross the border and be released into the interior of the country, exploiting migrant children for profit. Smugglers have even fraudulently presented aliens arriving at the border as fake families to take advantage of the Flores loophole.”
The release also notes that family unit apprehensions have increased more than 2,800 percent from FY 2013 to today- from 14,855 then to 432,838 this fiscal year.
Civil liberties groups have expressed concerns. Under Flores, children could only be held for twenty days, but under the new regulation children can be held with their parents until immigration proceedings take place. The administration has indicated these proceedings could be resolved within three months but a definite timeline is unclear, making some worry the regulation could lead to longer detentions.
Madhuri Grewal, the federal immigration policy counsel for the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), said in a statement that the new regulation was a “cruel attack on children.” Grewal noted that the government “should not be jailing kids, and certainly shouldn’t be seeking to put more kids in jail for longer.” The ACLU encouraged Congress not to fund the regulation.
The White House noted that the new rule will ensure all immigrant children are “safe. Secure, and well cared for while detained.”
“What this will do is to substantially increase our ability to end the ‘catch and release’ challenges that have fueled this crisis,” Acting Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security Kevin McAleenan said in a news conference. “The new rule will restore the integrity of our immigration system and eliminate a major pull factor fueling the crisis.”
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